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In Conversation with Lulu O’Connor of Clothes Doctor

For a recent MenswearStyle podcast episode, our Lifestyle Editor Peter Brooker sat down with Lulu O'Connor, CEO and Founder of Clothes Doctor. Lulu talked about how imperative it is to bring more sustainability to our wardrobes. Clothes Doctor is an award-winning digital clothing maintenance service, providing repairs, alterations and customisation. They help the modern-day consumer love their clothes for longer and get the perfect fit, whilst reducing fashion waste.

The traditional repairs and alterations industry across the UK is a £650m market. Clothes Doctor’s mobile-based, on demand wardrobe maintenance service makes finding that perfect fit, or bringing old favourites back to life, efficient and effortless. Fashion is the third biggest contributor to landfill waste in the UK, and the second biggest global polluter after the oil industry. This has begun to draw attention from consumers, industry commentators and the UK government, and retailers are also looking at ways to reduce waste.

Can you tell us how you started the company? 

“I used to work in Finance in the city and as a customer I was buying a lot of clothes for work and was shopping entirely online. I started to realise that as stuff was getting damaged, which was common, there wasn’t a service that you could send it to or get it mended in an efficient easy-to-use way. I stated to look into the repairs & alterations industry overall; It is very fragmented and old fashioned, you will see guys sat in the shop windows of a dry cleaners for example. It occurred to me that this isn’t the way the modern-day customer wants to consume that type of service. Everyone is shopping online and wants things done quickly and efficiently. I started to think that there must be a better solution, a way that we could create something that is convenient and easy to use. So, that is where it started; I wanted to build something people would trust and a place where people would become regular users and use it to maintain their wardrobe and look after their clothes, and hopefully along the way throw away less and contribute to a more sustainable lifestyle.”

How did you formulate a plan from concept to market? 

“The first thing I did was spend a long time stressing about what the name should be. I wanted something that was really obvious what it did and didn’t need explaining. I then went off and trademarked the name, and then I found and reserved the websites. I then had to get going with making the website which was more bespoke than a Wordpress site for example. It is quite complicated, and we spent a long time working out how it would work and then built it bespoke. Alongside this I got the workshop ready and found seamstresses that were really good. Piece by Piece, we got there. Although it was a leap of faith, I did do a lot of research before I started e.g. I sent out a lot of questionnaires to friends. I also went to test out a lot of repairs and alterations shops around London to see their price points, how competitive it was and how efficient they were. A lot of the time a found that many of the tailors would say they couldn’t fix what I was asking for which give me a few ideas to offer a wider range of services. The questionnaires told me that people care about convenience and quality and they want their garments fixing well in a hassle-free way.”

Tell me about the crowdfunding campaign? 

“It’s going great actually. We’ve just hit 75% of our target of £200k. I have to say, investing in fashion isn’t a hugely popular business at the moment. A lot of investors are excited by fintech and automated cars etc. In a way, being within the fashion industry puts us at a disadvantage for the type of investors that might be looking on Crowdcube. However so far, we’ve had an amazing reaction from the people involved so far. It has been very beneficial in many respects. It’s likely that we will fund because we have another 15 days. It is hard work and it is an emotional roller coaster too. There are lots of businesses that don’t fund so you have to get out there and spread the word to your customers and your industry.”

This is a shortened edit of episode 35 of the MenswearStyle Podcast with Lulu O’Connor of digital clothing maintenance service clothing clothes-doctor.com. You can listen to the full version below or subscribe in iTunes directly and invest in them via Crowdcube today.

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